Paring Down Mealtime with a Slow Cooker

My super cool friend Cynthia and I exchanged our Christmas gifts late yesterday.  We had a long conversation about our slow cookers before the holiday.  She said she hadn't really figured out how to cook much in hers yet, and I told her that I wanted to use mine more.

In fact, I accidentally fell into the blogging world while looking online for some healthy slow cooker recipes.  I found Stephanie O'Dea's super site A Year of Slow Cooking, which features her 2008 resolution to cook meals in her slow cooker every day for the entire year.  This culminated in a great slow cooker cookbook: Make It Fast; Cook It Slow

With our conversation in mind, I looked specifically for a healthy slow cooker recipe book.  I found Prevention's latest slow cooker recipe book at Target, which has an interview with Stephanie in the back.

 So the slow cooker recipe booklet, a BPA-free Nalgene water bottle and a large glass canister rounded out my gift.  She did well and didn't laugh when until after I opened my gift, which was this fantastic Crock Pot cook book.  Great minds think alike!

I am already planning which recipes I'll be trying next, but slow cookers really made my Christmas meal planning super easy and relaxing.

Here's what I did:

For Christmas Eve dinner, I got up around 7 a.m. to put in a package of 10 bean soup mix, some sliced jalapeno sausage, a can of diced tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of Tony Chachere Creole seasoning, and a large container of vegetable broth.  I let it cook on high for 6 hours and then set it to low until we were ready to eat dinner.  I made cornbread muffins to go with it - DONE!

Sid's parents brought their slow cooker, which was perfect because I needed two large cookers.

For Christmas Day breakfast and lunch I got up at 12:30 a.m. and put the ingredients in each slow cooker for a breakfast casserole and a pot roast with potatoes, onions, and carrots.

I used a slight variation of Stephanie's hash brown breakfast casserole.  I made up my own recipe for the pot roast; by lunch time I only needed to make gravy and bake the rolls.  

I had a wonderful, relaxing, stress-free couple of days as a result.  During my hectic school days, I plan to make many more slow cooker meals that will be waiting for me and my family.  Happy, EASY cooking
This is the Rival Smart Pot Crock Pot I use.

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